One major obstacle that's been holding the Recon Instruments heads-up display from really taking off is that it was designed for goggles. That's great for niche sports like skiing, snowboarding and skydiving, but it's useless for more common activities like running and cycling. The company is working to address that inherent shortcoming with the Jet, a pair of heads-up display sunglasses with a much more ambitious set of sporting and non-sporting uses.
Recon Instruments revealed the Jet at the Google I/O event last week. The Jet combines a dual-core processor, dedicated graphics, GPS, HD camera, speaker, microphone, and wireless connectivity in one small unit mounted on a pair of sport sunglasses. Recon says the microcomputer module is faster and more powerful than the unit in its snow sports goggles.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Like other Recon hardware, the Jet uses a full sensor set for measuring environment and performance data. It also includes a full Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and ANT+ connectivity suite for linking up with external sensors and devices.
Because the Jet is based on more general eyewear than Recon's previous products, the gadget is aimed at more than just sports tracking. Recon used I/O to demonstrate the open nature of its platform and preview a little of the device's potential. Example applications that it showed or discussed included displaying patient information to a doctor during surgery, showing details about a forest fire to a forestry worker, video streaming, and connecting the wearer to a smartphone, the Web and social media. In terms of sports and activities, Recon cited running, cycling and golf specifically, but also said that its open software development kit will allow developers to create apps around any activity.
The Jet appears like it could serve as a sort of lighter, cheaper, sportier alternative to Google's own Glass. It definitely takes functionality well beyond Recon's current generation of goggle HUDs and similar devices like the 4iiiis Sportiiiis. In fact, Recon says that it packs the computing power of a tablet or smartphone into a tiny, wearable package.
Like Recon's MOD Live goggle hardware, the Jet's display sits in the lower right peripheral. Recon says that the display won't be distracting when you're not purposefully looking at it for information. It doesn't provide an idea of what the Jet display will look like, but the MOD Live display is said to look comparable to a 14-inch screen viewed from 5 feet (1.5 m) away. An interchangeable battery lets you quickly re-power the hardware.
The Jet could be a huge step for Recon – from a goggle-based, GPS-tracking micro-display with limited appeal to a more powerful heads-up computer that could find all kinds of uses during work, play and relaxation. The inclusion of the camera and microphone means that the Jet can double as a wearable action camera, filming and uploading video and audio, all while keeping tabs on location, speed, distance traveled and more. With its speaker and Bluetooth connectivity, it could also serve as a convenient, sports-friendly calling device.
The product isn't ready for market just yet. As such, Recon hasn't detailed all of its hardware specifications or applications. It's still speaking in general terms such as a "glove-friendly optical touch sensor" and "high performance polarized sunglass optics." It will certainly provide more information as the self-imposed "coming 2013" launch deadline draws nearer. Until then, get a better idea of what this little face computer will offer by watching the video below.
Source: Recon Instruments